Recycle or face £8m in fines

TAXPAYERS will have to fork out up to £8million a year if North Somerset Council does not stop being rubbish at recycling

TAXPAYERS will have to fork out up to £8million a year if North Somerset Council does not stop being rubbish at recycling.If the authority, which is currently ranked 11 out of 15 for the amount it recycles, does nothing to cut the amount of rubbish it sends to landfills, it will be slapped with massive fines.These will be passed on to the taxpayer and could see council tax bills soar by up to 11 per cent.Other authorities have resorted to fortnightly collections and other extreme measures to try and force down the amount of black bag rubbish households throw away. But North Somerset is lagging behind and some councillors are warning 'drastic action' needs to be taken.Because of the new Government legislation, the local authority has to cut the amount of biodegradable waste it sends to landfill sites by more than a third by April 2010.Councils nationwide have been told how much they can send to landfill sites for the next 13 years and from April 2009 they will be fined £150 for every tonne of biodegradable waste above that amount.The estimated cost to the council from fines, landfill tax and transportation costs for 2009/10 is estimated at £6,409,965 and £8,124,163 for 2010/11.Green Party councillor, Tom Leimdorfer, says the authority could be in big trouble if it does not get people recycling more.He Leimdorfer said: "By 2009 we will be in deficit unless we do something drastic."Executive member for environment, Councillor Carl Francis-Pester, says the authority is trying to come up with ways to make recycling easier for people, including extending the opening hours at civic amenities sites.He said: "We certainly need to increase the amount going through recycling centres."We want to engage all members of the community. We want everyone from schools to pensioners to help."We want more comprehensive recycling and are also looking at extending the hours at refuse centres."We would open at the same time in the morning but close later."But there would be a cost to us at the moment for doing this so we are just looking into it."We want to simplify collections as well, so people can recycle more frequently and easily."We are in the advanced stages of making sure all recyclable items are collected at the same time as other rubbish."At the moment we have no plans to move to fortnightly rubbish collections."More than 50,000 tonnes of biodegradable rubbish collected from around North Somerset was sent to landfill from April 2006 to April 2007. By 2010 it should be 39,293 and 34,371 tonnes by 2011.Although the main aim of the new European Union legislation is to cut the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill, North Somerset Council will also be slammed with landfill tax and transport costs, estimated to be nearly £5million for 2009/10 and nearly £6million for 2010/11 for the overall amount of rubbish it sends to landfill sites.Central Government has already started giving local authorities one permit for every 1,000 tones of waste it sends to landfill. At the moment North Somerset Council can bank any it does not use but from 2009 this will not be possible. It may however be able to trade them with other local authorities.Permits already traded have sold for about £20 each and indication shows that there will be a national deficit of permits by 2009/10.

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